Tuesday, April 24, 2012

By Popular Demand: New Release by MommaDrool Mafia

I keep getting requests for a new release by the MommaDrool Mafia, and I admit, it has been a very long time.  I continue to joke that when I retire, I am going to write rap/hip-hop music.  Seriously, it would be awesome.  

Okay, so without further adieu, here is the new release.  Sometimes I just have to wait for inspiration to write these, and my messy house (that I can't seem to keep clean) gave me plenty.  The song that fueled my inspiration is "Somebody That I Used to Know" by Gotye featuring Kimbra.  Enjoy!

The Clean House That I Used to Know

Now and then I think of when you were so spotless
Like when you looked like a house without ten kids
Told myself that it could stay this way
But then those kids made it all for them
But that was then and it's the clean I still remember

You can get accustomed to a certain kind of clutter
Like where to put all these drawings, always drawings
So when we found that there was no more room
Well you thought you’d make a pile there
But I'll admit that was a very bad idea

But you didn't have to throw your toys
Make out like it wasn’t clean and that you were playing
And I don't even want to dust
But you treat me like a housemaid and I feel so rough
No you didn't have to toss those clothes
Have to leave them on the floor and then say they’re dirty
I guess that I don't have the time
Now you're just the clean house that I used to know

Now you're just the clean house that I used to know
Now you're just the clean house that I used to know

Now and then I think of all the times you were so tidy
Part of me believing it would always stay just this way
But I don't wanna live this way
In a house that I cannot keep clean
I thought that I could let it go
And I wouldn't be so hung up on the clean house that I used to know

But you didn't have to throw your toys
Make out like it wasn’t clean and that you were playing
And I don't even want to dust
But you treat me like a housemaid and I feel so rough
No you didn't have to toss those clothes
Have to leave them on the floor and then say they’re dirty
I guess that I don't have the time
Now you're just the clean house that I used to know

The clean house
(I used to know)
The clean house
(Now you're just the clean house that I used to know)

(I used to know)
(That I used to know)
(I used to know)
The clean house

Friday, April 20, 2012

Keep Calm and Dance Trance

As part of my treatment plan, my doctor advised me to begin practices to lower my stress level.  He said that whatever I chose to do, it should be something that I enjoy.  I knew that exercise was probably the best medicine for de-stressing and making sure that the rest of me stayed well enough to fight off this cancer.  Besides spinning, I haven't found much in the exercise world that has held my interest for long.  My doctor kept telling me, "You have to love it, or you will never stick with it."  I started searching my brain for something that I love, and I could only come up with one answer: DANCING.

If I look back on my life, dancing is probably the one thing that I have felt the most passionate about (family, friends, and work aside).  If you had told me at 21 years old that there would ever be a time when I wouldn't be dancing, I probably would have looked at you like you had two heads.  Dance was a large part of my life from a very young age.  After high school, I went on to dance on the dance team at two different colleges.  It was such a large part of me...but life happens.  You get married, have children, and sometimes there just isn't enough time for those things that you are passionate about.

I continued to dance in my head and my heart even after my feet were no longer carrying out the steps.  I love music just as much as I love dancing, and really, the two go hand in hand.  The Husby is convinced that I am the human version of iTunes.  If it is a song, I probably know it.  There really aren't any types of music that I don't like, so my music collection is as random as it gets.  If you can dance to it, I probably love it.

The Fred and I were sifting through VHS tapes (I know, who has those anymore?), and she found several dance competition tapes.  I decided that it was probably time to burn all of them to DVD.  As we were watching each of them, one of them really stood out to me because I remember that it was at a time when I realized just how great of an outlet for expressing myself dance really was.  It was a song that I felt an emotional connection to (even though I had only just turned 15 years old at the time), and I found that I was able to express those emotions through dance.  Now, I know that this was well before I had reached my peak as a technical dancer, but it was a point in my life when I realized that dance would always be a part of me.

For me, music and dance are both great therapy.  I have a physiological reaction to both.  So, after deciding that the solution to my doctor's assignment was to start dancing again, I began looking for somewhere that I could do just that.  While searching for classes, I came across a website for Dance Trance Birmingham, and I was convinced from the beginning that this was the place for me.  How right I was.

Now, I have to admit, it has been a long time since I have danced (8 years to be exact), and it shows.  I am slowly getting the hang of it, and I have to keep telling myself that as long as I am having fun, that is all that matters.  Sometimes I forget that my body is not functioning at 100%, but as long as I am showing up and putting in the effort, I know that I am reaping both the physical and psychological benefits.

I was sitting at work last week and a co-worker asked me about where I was dancing.  I told her all about Dance Trance and explained that basically it was like a hip-hop dance class.  She laughed so hard trying to picture me doing hip-hop that she almost fell out of her chair.  For anyone that has met me after I stopped dancing, I can see why that is so funny.

Next Friday, I will be participating in Relay for Life as a survivor and as a member of Team Dance Trance Birmingham.  I am very proud to be participating with such a wonderful group of women that have the same passion for dance in their hearts.  We will all be wearing Dance Trance gear, and I felt like I really needed to come up with something that would reflect how much I love this place and the therapeutic role that it has in my life.  I decided that I would design a shirt to wear for the event that expresses just that...

I think that pretty much sums up my plan for lowering my stress levels.  Overall, I am thankful for the opportunity to do something that I love and have it make a positive impact on my life and my health.  And by the way, as of my doctor's appointment on Wednesday, I have lost 20 pounds!  That only sweetens the deal.

Friday, November 11, 2011

My 23-Hour Stint, How To Deactivate a Pressure Bed, & Channeling Peter Brady

Of course, very little in life goes according to our plan, but it seems that I have done nothing but plan over the past two weeks in preparation for my ten days away from home.  I wanted to make sure that everyone was taken care of while I was away.  For the most part, I was worried about how the kids would react.  Surprisingly, as I write this on Day 4 away from them, they are doing just fine in my absence.  I decided that I wanted to do something special for them each day that I was away.  I purchased ten small gifts for each of them and placed them in labeled gift bags with the countdown day.  Along with each gift, I included a card for each child with one of the ten things I love most about them and a picture of us together.  From what The Husby tells me, this has been a hit with them and has worked as great motivation for them to get ready for bed in the evenings.  No bath, pajamas, and brushed teeth...no gift.  The power of bribery never ceases to amaze me.  It has made things easier for The Husby, The Fred, and StickyBun-Scotti to have my grandparents in town from Atlanta to help out.  They have taken care of StickyBun-Scotti during the day on two days that he was home with a cold, have handled all of the afternoon transportation for the kids, and have prepared all of their dinners.  They even watched both kids all day today since they were out for the holiday.  I am so thankful for them being there when we needed them, and it has made my absence much easier for the kids and The Husby.

Of course, I had arrived at the hospital around 8:45 for my 9:30 admission on Tuesday.  The Husby and StickyBun-Scotti, who was home with a cold, were with me.  After being admitted, I was taken by patient transport to my room on the Oncology Unit.  It was easy to pick out which room was saved for me...the one with the huge radioactive sign on the door.  When I walked in, I saw that most of the room was covered with blue chux pads.  I had to laugh.  I can't wrap a square box, so I can't imagine how you would begin to wrap a toilet.  I have to think that this is an art that takes a great deal of practice.  I'd be interested to know whose job description this falls under.  Food for thought.

After saying my tearful "goodbyes" to my boys, I sat waiting, patiently, for further instructions.  An hour went by without even a knock at the door, I was left to sit with the nothing more than the noise of the pressure ulcer bed, which is a story in itself.  I have to admit that I don't sleep well in general.  I am very sensitive to noise and movement.  I have had to sleep with ear plugs in my ears ever since StickyBun-Scotti was born and a good mattress is a splurge I can always justify.  If you know anything about pressure ulcer beds, you know that they are constantly moving, vibrating, and making noise.  I tried to tell myself that it would be okay.  I can stand anything for a few nights...right?

After two hours of waiting, a woman finally came in and introduced herself.  I knew that she worked there, but she gave me no clues as to who she was...nurse...patient care tech...not a clue.  She simply asked me when they were coming to give me my radioactive iodine.  Uhm?  Wouldn't she know more about that than I would?  I had plenty of questions...to which, she was able to provide no answers.  My most important question was about how to turn off the bed...to which she replied, "You can't."  Fabulous.  Instead, she told me to ask nuclear medicine any questions when they came to see me.  She simply gave me instructions to change into a gown and have a seat on the bed.  So, I sat and waited...and waited...and waited...with nothing but the air compressor noise from the bed and the constant vibrating movement.  At this point, I was ready to push the bed out of the window.  If you work in a hospital, you know that the beds can't be simply unplugged from the wall because they are hooked up to the nurse call system.  An unplugged bed will constantly call to the nurses' station.  I had to think fast, or this was going to be a long three days.

I had brought my phone in the bag that had my clothes to wear home, so I quickly downloaded the user manual for this type of bed.  I knew that there had to be a way to turn the thing off without unplugging it.  Of course, it can be done.  I memorized all of the steps to deactivate the bed and snapped a quick pic of my blue chux covered paradise before returning the phone to my bag.  Crisis averted!

At 1:00 that afternoon, an RN came in to draw some blood to make sure I wasn't pregnant.  No answers from her either.  At 2:45 that afternoon, nuclear medicine arrived at my room.  The doctor briefed me on the rules: stay in the bed behind the lead shields surrounding the bed unless you are going to the bathroom, don't step off of the chux lined path surrounding the bed and leading to the bathroom, drink lots of water, and you can go home when your radioactive level is at 5.  The more water you drink, the lower your level will be, and the sooner you can leave.  Simple enough, right?  I thought so.

My first low-iodine meal in isolation made me laugh...canned English peas, cooked carrots, white rice, and a slice of turkey.  This was funny to The Husby because I love vegetables, with the exception of two things...you guessed it, canned English peas and cooked carrots.  Not a good start to the culinary experience.  Let's just say that the hospital where I work serves five-star gourmet fare compared to this place...no comparison.

In an effort to make the stay as short as possible, I started drinking water constantly.  I told myself that I would drink a minimum of 10 ounces of fluid each hour and increase that to account for hours that I may be sleeping.  At 6:00 that evening my radioactive level was 26, and they told me that they would check my level again around 8:00 the next morning.  My wonderful endocrinologist came by after leaving his office to check on me.  A gesture that I thought was very kind.  The rest of the evening was uneventful.  I deactivated my bed in hopes of getting some sleep...willing to trade sleeping on a loud, moving bed for a metal slab that is the product of a deflated/deactivated pressure bed.  A trade that I would gladly make again.  Someone would come in every 4 hours to check my vitals and peer at me for a split second over the lead shields.  That was all.  I slept in 2 hour increments and drank water every time I woke up.  By the next morning, my neck was very sore, and I was nauseous.  I took a hot shower and waited patiently for nuclear medicine.

When I was measured by nuclear medicine at 8:00 my level was at 10.  Soon after, my endocrinologist stopped back by to check on me before he started seeing patients for the day.  I shared the good news, and he went ahead and wrote my discharge prescriptions.  By my calculations, if I continued to consume fluid at the same rate, my body should be at 5 or below by my next check after lunch.  At 1:30, nuclear medicine returned and my level had dropped to a 3...woohoo!!!  Escape!!!  I was out of there within an hour.  I have to believe that 23-hours is some kind of record since they were planning on me sticking around for 3 days.  If there was anything that I learned during my hospital stay, it was that hospital food is not good, I don't like being confined to a bed for hours on end, I really don't like drinking water, you can find a user manual for just about anything on the internet, and CSI and NCIS come on at least one channel at any given time during the day and night.

My first day out was pretty exciting because I was discharged with the instructions to resume a regular diet...hallelujah!  Unfortunately, I was so nauseous that nothing sounded good.  I drove myself to Montgomery, and by the time I got there, I had decided that Pizza Hut would hit the spot...it did.  When I woke up Thursday morning, I was shocked by how awful I felt.  My neck had become so swollen that I look like I have mumps.  It is difficult to swallow and difficult to breathe when I lay on my back.  My vocal chords are so irritated that I sound like a pubescent Peter Brady every time I try to talk.  I'm still nauseous...very, very nauseous...which makes the excitement over being able to eat whatever I want not quite as exciting.  I miss my kids.  I miss my husband.  I'm over all of this.

My follow-up scan has been scheduled for the day before Thanksgiving, so I hope to have the results sometime around the beginning of the next week.  I tried to share all of the humor in all of this so that I don't sound like such a "Debbie Downer," but I really am over it.

Hey, Cancer, it's time for you to plan your exit strategy.

Until next time, I love and miss you all!  Great big hugs and kisses!

Love- K

Thursday, October 27, 2011

A New Man (Doctor) and The Plan

Yesterday, I went to see my new doctor...he is wonderful!  When I arrived at his office, I didn't even have to wait.  He spent an hour and a half...let me repeat that, an hour and a half...in the room with me.  He completed a very thorough health history for me and my immediate family.  Then, we discussed treatment options.  Finally, he completed a head-to-toe assessment.  When I say "head-to-toe assessment," I mean the type that they teach you in nursing school.  All of my nurse friends will understand this...tactile fremitus, respiratory excursion, abdominal percussion, listening for 60 seconds at the PMI...all of this was included.  I was impressed to say the least.  I even managed to walk out of his office with samples of a new prescription for my migraines...something I have not taken anything but OTC drugs for in years because I hate the side effects of the traditional drugs.  He was quick to suggest something without any side effects...I like it.  Only downside to this drug is that it is mixed with a small amount of water before you drink it, and it is flavored with anise (my family will understand why this is a negative). I digress.

Inpatient treatment is scheduled for November 8th...lucky for me, this is the first day that I am eligible for FMLA.  We made the decision to be aggressive with treatment, so I am being treated with a high dose of I-131.  The doctor made me laugh when he let me know that he was using the term "inpatient" very loosely.  Basically, they will take me into a room, give me the I-131, and leave me there for 3 days.  I can call if I need something, but otherwise, there will be limited interaction.  Anything that I bring with me has to stay in the room because it will become radioactive.  If I could take my laptop, at least I could work on school.  Instead, I will be reading, watching TV, and sleeping.  Not too bad. 

The only negative is that I am really feeling the effects of the hypothyroidism at this point...extreme fatigue, muscle aches, dry skin...you get the picture.  It is making the 12-hour shifts close to unbearable, but I am trying my best to keep up the positive attitude and the smile on my face...whatever will get me through the day.  It could be worse...right?

In preparation for the radioactive iodine treatment, I have to follow a very strict low-iodine diet.  I will follow this diet until after treatment and my follow-up scan.  As someone that eats very little beef, chicken, and pork, I get most of my protein from fish, eggs, soy, dairy, nuts, and beans.  This diet does not fit with this style of eating.  I can't have anything that comes from the sea, no eggs, no dairy, no packaged or processed food, no soy, and no baked goods (including bread).  Basically, nothing that contains iodine or salt.  I can have raw unprocessed nuts and beans prepared from dry.  I can have fresh fruits and vegetables, 4 servings of grains per day (unprocessed), honey, maple syrup, vinegar, 6 ounces of meat per day, oils, and fresh herbs and spices.  As you know, I love to cook, so this diet makes me want to cry.  For breakfast, I ate 2 salt-free Kosher rice cakes with unsalted and unsweetened peanut and flax seed spread with honey, an apple, and a clementine.  For lunch, I am having a half cup of orzo mixed with two cups of spinach, dried cranberries, white balsamic vinegar, olive oil, green onion, and black pepper.  Concord grapes and raspberries are my afternoon snack.  Not a clue as to what I will eat for dinner.  I am going to have to come up with some more salty foods that I can prepare because sweets are not that appealing to me.  The fact that I can use non-iodized salt is a plus.  Now, if only I could find someone to bake me some bread.  I am not a baker, and I would pay someone to bake bread for me.  I have some approved recipes...any takers?

So, that's the update! Until next time, I love you all!

Love- K

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

By Popular Demand: Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

It is no secret to anyone that I love salty snacks!  You can keep the cake, cookies, and ice cream.  I crave salty and crunchy.  With everyone carving their pumpkins around this time of the year, I have had several people ask me if I have a recipe for roasting pumpkin seeds.  No surprise, of course, I do!  This salty snack is as easy as it gets, and kids will love helping out.  I find that their little fingers are perfect for sorting through the pulp to find the seeds.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

1) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2) Separate the pumpkin seeds from the pulp and rinse the seeds in a colander.  Shake off the excess water.
3) Oil a baking sheet.  Spread the seeds in a single layer on the sheet.  Roast in the oven for 30 minutes to dry out the seeds.
4) Remove the seeds from the oven and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper (or additional spice flavors).  Return to the oven and bake an additional 20 minutes, until crisp and golden.  Enjoy!

Here are some yummy flavor combinations that I found in Food Network Magazine this year:

Toss with cinnamon and sugar (do not use salt in step 4).

Toss with garam masala; mix with currants after roasting.

Toss with smoked paprika; mix with slivered almonds after roasting.

Toss with grated parmesan and dried oregano.

Toss with brown sugar, chipotle chile powder and ground cumin.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Surprises, Smiles, and Sinking Ships

So much has gone on in the past month that I have a hard time remembering it all thanks to my perpetual "brain fog"...and yes, that is actually the terminology used by physicians to describe the foggy feeling that goes along with the hypothyroid state...add that to my "mommy brain," and you get some serious forgetfulness.  It's a good thing I write everything down.  I am going to try to recap the past couple of weeks, but I am sure I will leave some things out along the way.

The Husby and I celebrated our wedding anniversary last week...5 years married, and our first date was around the same time 15 years ago.  It's crazy to think that we have known each other for that long, and to me, it doesn't seem like we have been married for 5 years...The Husby says it seems much longer...ha!  When we first married, The Husby had recently purchased a jet ski...one of his prized possessions. But with kids and the busyness of life in general, the jet ski was rarely used.  Eventually, the decision was made to sell it, and I could tell that The Husby was heartbroken.  For this anniversary, I wanted to do something really special.  We all love to fish, and The Husby has wanted to purchase a boat for years.  What better present could there be than a brand new fishing boat?

I am awful at keeping secrets from The Husby, so the fact that this remained a secret over the 3-month process of purchasing this boat is a miracle.  I have never been so nervous and excited...not since I was a little kid waiting for Christmas morning.  I woke up at 4 am the morning I was supposed to go pick-up the boat and laid in bed wide awake until 6 am.  I led The Husby to believe I was getting up to hit an early bird sale where I was shopping for some new dress pants for him as an anniversary present...boring, huh?  I'm sure he was less than thrilled by the sentiment.  Instead, I drove out to the Bass Pro Shop where I was picking up the new boat. 

When I returned home with the boat, I pulled up in front of the house.  I went inside to surprise him.  Unexpectedly, I broke down and started crying while I was telling him how much I love and appreciate him.  I handed him the keys to the boat and he said, "What's this?"  I told him to go look out in front of the house.  When he stepped outside, I could see that he was so excited.  He and StickyBun-Scotti went bounding down the stairs to check out the boat.  We decided that it would be best if he familiarized himself with the boat and the manual before we took it to the lake, so the plan was to go to the lake the next day.

There were two things that the mechanic at the Bass Pro Shop told me I needed to make sure I kept track of...the boat keys and the bilge plug.  I handed both of them over to The Husby, and he made sure that the bilge plug was inserted before we went to the lake.  When we arrived at the lake, we backed the boat into the water.  The Husby drove the boat over to the dock while I pulled the trailer into the parking lot.  When I got down to the dock, I helped StickyBun-Scotti get onto the boat, but then I noticed that the back of the boat seemed to be taking on water...all I could hear was "glug, glug, glug." I looked at The Husby and said, "Something is not right.  We need to get the boat out of the water."  I quickly grabbed StickyBun-Scotti, and The Husby ran to get the trailer.  Luckily, a few men standing nearby, after docking their boat, saw the panicked look on my face and came over to help.  They helped us get the boat out of the water and onto the trailer.  It turns out that The Husby had inserted the bilge plug into the livewell water uptake hole instead of the hole on the other rear side of the boat.  He was inadvertently sinking his new boat.  We couldn't do anything but laugh at this point.  After all of the water drained, we had an enjoyable day of fishing on Lay Lake.  I told The Husby that I could not imagine calling the insurance company and having to say, "Hi, you know the new boat that I bought on Saturday?  Well, we sunk it on Sunday."  Thank goodness, that was a call I did not have to make.

So, now for the health update...I have been feeling pretty bad over the past few weeks...both physically and emotionally.  I have consistently run a fever between 99.6 and 101 for the past 4 weeks, but I have no other symptoms besides the usual ones that go along with being hypothyroid.  I have an appointment with my new endocrinologist on Wednesday to draw my labs and schedule my treatment.  I am very excited to meet with this new doctor, and I think that he is going to be wonderful based on the feedback from others. 

I will update after the appointment on Wednesday!  Until then, I love you all!

Love- K

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Life On Cruise Control

I have officially reached Day 3 of 4 for the work week, and I feel my body losing its gusto.  As bad as I am feeling, I have to admit, it beats sitting in a house, alone, all day.  I love the people I work with...I feed off of their energy...they make me smile...they make me laugh...they lift my spirits...and that counts for a whole lot these days.  I know that these are people that I can always count on for anything, and for that, I am very grateful.  Slowly, but surely, I feel like I am getting my groove back at work, with the help of my wonderful co-workers.  If it wasn't for them, this could be something I would dread getting up for in the mornings.  Because of them, my days are better and brighter.  

Overall, it has been a really good week.  I celebrated my 30th birthday on Wednesday!  Unfortunately, we ended up doing a "day late" celebration on Thursday because I was sick with a stomach bug on my actual birthday, but I have no complaints...it was still wonderful.  I think that a lot of people dread their 30th birthday, but I feel like I am finally at a point in my life where I am comfortable...career, children, marriage, finances...everything comfortable enough that my stress level is significantly lower than it has ever been, and I feel like life is on cruise control.  If this is what my 30's is all about...I like it!

Love- K